National Malaise CURED!
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Winter Wonder Brand
By MICHAEL IGNATIEFF
A version of the article appeared in print on February 7, 2010, on page 9 of the New York Times Sunday Magazine.
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The Olympics have done their part in replacing war with sport as the way nations earn respect. Modern nations compete by branding their identities, and hosting the Olympic Games is the biggest branding opportunity a nation ever gets. . . .
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The Olympics are branding Canada to the world, but they are also branding Canada to Canadians. At first we grumbled about the cost and did not take ownership of the whole expensive spectacle. But as soon as the Olympic torch relays began this fall, Canadians started lining the route by the thousands to see Olympians and other local heroes carrying the torch aloft through their communities. From Alert, the northernmost community on earth, to the American border and from Newfoundland to Vancouver Island, the torch relay has brought the country alive and brought it together.
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An article on the Olympics and national branding with no mention of Leni Riefenstahl? And – with the exception of Maestra Riefenstahl’s rule-proving exception of Berlin – has any Olympics projected anything except a small, small world Disney mish-mash of diversity?